oilwellessentials4health

understanding therapeutic grade essential oils and their benefits


A Great Loss, a Great Legacy

On May 12, 2018, Gary Young, founder of Young Living Essential Oils, passed away due to complications from a series of strokes. Donald Gary Young was born July 11, 1949 in Idaho Falls, Idaho, to Donald Norman Young and Dolly Adrienne Parsons.

The Young family were among the most noted of early American pioneers.They were descended from Dr. Joseph Young, who served in the French and Indian Wars as a surgeon. Joseph married Elizabeth Hayden Treadway, a widow, and had six children, including John Hayden Young, a veteran of the Revolutionary War. John married Abigail “Nabby” Howe, of the Puritan family of Howes, and in 1801, they moved to the remote hills of Vermont, near the small town of Whittingham in Windham County, and in 1807 to Smyrna, New York. Nabby was the mother of eleven children, including Brigham Young, and his younger brother Lorenzo, third great-grandfather of Gary Young.

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Lorenzo Dow Young 3rd great-grandfather of Gary, and  brother of Brigham Young

John R Young great-great grandfather of Gary

John R Young, great-great grandfather of Gary, from Memoirs of John R Young

Lorenzo was the youngest of eleven children born to John Hayden Young and Abigail “Nabby” Howe Young, while Brigham was the ninth child. Lorenzo Young was asked by his brother Brigham to join him as part of the vanguard company on the first expedition of the Mormons to Utah, in 1847.

The pioneer story of the Young family is an incredible one, filled with hardship and adventure. With some understanding of this history, it is not so surprising that Gary Young was born with the same pioneering spirit as his ancestors. He possessed a mind with a unique ability to visualize what he wanted or needed to achieve, and the determination to carry it out.

 

 

 

Gary’s growing up years were spent in Challis, Idaho, in a 30 x 30 cabin his father built 12 miles from town, with no electricity or running water.  He lived with his parents and 5 siblings, accustomed to a life of hard work on the range.

wedding picture Ferra Little Young and Nancy Lewella Green

wedding picture of Gary’s great-grandparents Ferra Little Young and Nancy Lewela Green

 

 

Ferra, Llloyd, Gary, and Guy Young front, Don Young back left

Gary’s great-grandfather Ferra Little Young; Lloyd Young, Gary, Guy Young in front row; Gary’s father Don Young back left

Their home was on  the edge of what is now the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.

Max, Jack, and Don Young, Gary at Don's feet, Challis, ID

Gary’s uncles Max and Jack, his father Don, and Gary at Don’s feet at the farm in Challis, Idaho

Here the rugged, indomitable mountains rise sharply above the deep canyons with rushing, whitewater rivers.  The Salmon River Canyon, deeper even than the famous Grand Canyon, commands spectacular views of a diverse ecological landscape, defined by some of the oldest minerals visible anywhere on earth. Cirque basins with high alpine lakes, chiseled gorges, wooded ridges, exposed granite bluffs and solitary turrets of the Bighorn Crags paint a landscape with shades of pale silver, green and blue.

 

 

Gary's grandparents RockL and Martha Allen Young

Gary’s grandparents Rock L and Martha Allen Young

Gary's parents when young

Gary’s parents, Dolly and Don Young

In 1967, Gary spent his summer working for the US Forest Service. He rode his horse over 2500 miles through the Idaho wilderness, clearing trails, patrolling for forest fires, and packing supplies to the fire lookouts and guard stations. Saving his money, he packed up his belongings that fall and drove to Canada, where he filed for one of the last parcels through the homestead act. Here he began building his horse and cattle ranch on 320 acres, 30 miles in the wilderness, and logging in the wintertime. His endeavor prospered for the first few years until a severe logging accident in 1973 changed the course of his life forever. Gary had three open skull fractures, and his spinal cord was ruptured in three places where it was classed as an incomplete break. In addition there were 16 broken or crushed vertebrae, and 11 ruptured discs. His pelvis was also broke,  the brachial plexus severed and the right scapula was broken into 9 pieces. Altogether there were 19 broken bones including all his ribs on the right side and several on the left. Initially Gary was not even given a room in the hospital but left in the hall as the doctors felt certain he could not survive this terrible trauma. He did not die but was confined to a wheelchair, told he would never walk again, and lost in a world of mind-numbing painkillers and anti-depressants. Gradually he lost everything, and unable even to commit suicide he determined to fast himself to death by subsisting only on water and lemon juice.

Gary's father Don Young, B.C. 1974

Gary’s father, Don Young in British Columbia 1974, where he taught woodworking and physical activities at a handicap school

After 253 days of this he unexpectedly began to feel movement in his right toe. As his doctors could not offer much help or hope, Gary decided to stop all his medications and began to explore alternative methods for natural healing and pain relief. Gradually he regained mobility, and managed to again make a living logging by driving a truck fitted with a hand clutch and brakes. Over 13 years, Gary recovered enough to walk again, but was in constant pain. He moved to Southern California and continued his education by enrolling in a Naturopathic College. Although it was not accredited, it was the only school at the time offering courses about the topics he wanted to learn, and all of his completed coursework was reviewed by a medical doctor. He built a small research center in Rosarita Beach, Baja California, Mexico, and finally, through a client, he was introduced to essential oils and invited to attend a conference in Geneva, Switzerland, where medical doctors were presenting their research. The conference was a 40-hour course on essential oils taught by Dr. Jean Claude Lapraz, M.D., and Dr. Paul Duraffourd, M.D.  Following the conference, Gary traveled to Paris to spend another week studying with Dr. Lapraz, and brought home one liter each of thirteen different oils.

From that moment, Gary was hooked. With his background in farming, it was natural for him to want to learn to grow the plants himself. He brought the first seeds back from France in 1985, and in 1989, moved to Spokane, Washington. The next year he began planting on a little quarter acre plot there, and began his first distillation experiment on the kitchen stove by welding two pressure cookers together. He sent his first sample of lavender to Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt for testing in 1991. Dr. Schnaubelt was so amazed by the fine quality of the oil, that Gary was excited and encouraged to move forward. He wanted to learn every aspect of producing essential oils, from growing, harvesting, distilling, and testing, and made many, many trips to France, and to Europe, learning from the masters.

Gary became acquainted with Jean-Noël Landel, and through him met Marcel Espieu, who was then president of the Lavender Grower’s Association and had been for 27 years, and Henri Viaud, who lived at the time in the mountains of Provence, France, and was widely known as “the father of distillation”. Growing and distilling lavender had been the main trade of Marcel’s family for eight generationa, but his sons were not interested in pursuing it. He taught Gary all he knew. Mr. Viaud, 82 years old at the time, also accepted Gary as his final student. Gary made several trips, spending many months in all, on Mr. Viaud’s mountain learning the art of distillation, and it was Mr. Viaud who taught Gary to develop his “nose”. Gary continued to learn from Marcel Espieu and Henri Viaud for the rest of their lives.

Gary was very much a hands on person, he wanted to learn by doing, not just from acquiring degrees, or studying by himself from books. He sought out the best and most knowledgeable teachers around the world, determined to learn everything he could about growing and producing the best quality essential oils from the ground up. He traveled to Egypt to study with Dr. Radwan Faraq, and studied chemistry and GC/MS testing at Albert Vielle Laboratory in Vallauris, France. He went on to study GC/MS testing and equipement with Dr. Dr. Hervé Casabianca, who was the leading essential oil and plant molecular analytical chemist in the world. Dr Casabianca also had helped write the French AFNOR standards (Association Française de Normalisation, meaning French Standardization Association).

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Young Living St Maries farm, 2014, photo by Brenda Tippin

In 1992, Gary purchased his first farm, 160 acres in St. Maries, Idaho, and leased a farm in Provence, France in partnership with Jean-Noël. The St. Maries farm was later expanded to 200 acres. In 1993, Gary moved his business to Utah, where he met his wife Mary. They were married the next year, and Young Living was formally incorporated as the number of members grew steadily. Two sons were born to Mary, Jacob and Josef, now teenagers, who share their dad’s love of essential oils and are eager to carry his dream forward. Gary continued to expand his operations, designing larger and more efficient distillers and better farm equipment. Around the same time, Gary became acquainted with Dr. Songqiao Chao, dean of the Science Department at Beijing Technical University. Dr. Chao was visiting one of Mary’s neighbors, Dr. Cyrus McKell, dean of the Botany Department at Weber State University, and Dr. Chao was a guest lecturer there. Dr. McKell thought Dr. Chao would be interested in essential oils and brought him to meet Gary.  Through this meeting, Gary learned about Dr. Chao’s research on the Lycium barbarum wolfberry species growing on the Elbow Plateau in Inner Mongolia, in the NingXia Province of China. Gary was fascinated and became the first to import tons of the NingXia wolfberries for commercial use.  He formulated the popular NingXia red superjuice, the NingXia Nitro energy supplement, and also used the wolfberries in many other products.

The Whispering Springs Farm at Mona, Utah, was added 1995, which became the headquarters and showplace of Young Living. Gary worked tirelessly, experimenting with each different crop to determine the optimal growing and harvest conditions, and best parameters for distilling in order to obtain the maximum quality and highest yield  at the highest quality levels. Gary traveled to the Anadolu University in Eskisehir, Turkey to study with the noted professer, Dr. K. Hüsnü Can Başer (known as Dr Hans Baser) to complete 120 more hours of intense GC analysis. No one worked harder or longer than Gary, and his requirements were stringent, as he was never willing to sacrifice even the minutest amount of quality in order to have more product to sell.

As the company grew, he demanded the same strict requirements of all Young Living partners and suppliers. In 2000, Gary purchased a lavender farm in Simiane La Rotonde, which eliminated the need for leasing the farm in Provence.

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Young Living Percherons at Highland Flats tree farm, 2014, photo by Brenda Tippin

The same year, he discovered an overgrown Christmas tree farm in Naples, Idaho, near the Canadian border, which became the Highland Flats farm, now famous for the distillation of Idaho Balsam Fir, Idaho Blue Spruce, and other conifer oils. In 2006, more than 2300 acres were added to develop the Finca Botanica farm in Guayaquil, Ecuador, along with the Nova Vita Spa and Rejuvenation Center. A school was built for the local children, which became the Young Living Academy, opening its doors in 2007. The Young Living Academy celebrated its first graduating class in 2016. Nearly 300 students have attended this school to date. At Finca Botanica, many oils are distilled including Ylang Ylang, Palo Santo, Mastrante, Lemongrass, Eucalyptus Blue, Dorado Azul, Ocotea, Plectranthus Oregano, Rosa Muerta, Cardamom, Geranium, Hyssop, Ishpingo, Rosemary, Ruta, Thyme, and Vetiver. Chocolate is also produced from the Sasha cocoa trees.

 

Gary and his partner Jean-Noël joined with Benoit Cassan, president of the French Lavender Growers Association, and Jean-Marie Blanc in 2011 to merge their farms with the Simiane La Rontonde in southern France, which is now the largest true lavender farm in the world. In addition to Lavender, the farm also grows Clary Sage, Lavandin, Rosemary, and Einkorn, the ancient grain.

As the Young Living farms continued to expand, so did the need for larger distilleries and more sophisticated laboratories and testing equipment. Under Gary’s guidance, Young Living has developed the most complete and advanced laboratories in both North and South America for identifying and analyzing plant compounds. This includes the only GC/FID/MS combined instrument in the world (gas chromatography, flame ionization detector, and mass spectrometer). The GC in Ecuador was first equiped with dual FID and a two-capillary column system – one 60m polar stationary phase ad one 50m no-polar stationary phase. These were connected to a splitter at the inlet of the GC, evenly dividing the essential oil sample between the two columns. This enabled nearly every component in almost all essential oils to be separated and identified using the extensive retention index library Young Living has compiled. The MS was then connected to this system with a 60m non-polar capillary column, making it the only instrument in the world with three  capillary columns running to one MS and two FID detectors. The Agilent MS was also boosted with a 500,000 component spectral reference library.

Partnering with Dr. Mahmoud Suhail, a medical doctor who is the scientific advisor at the Dhofar Research Plant, pediatrician at Al Afivah Specialized Medical Complex, and chief Scientist for the AYUB S42 Research Project at the Sultanate of Oman, Young Living was granted permission in 2010 to build the first large commercial distillery for the extraction of Sacred Frankincense (Boswellia sacra) in modern times.

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Mary and Gary at Highland Flats Tree Farm, ribbon-cutting ceremony 2014, photo by Brenda Tippin

The Highland Flats distillery was expanded in 2014 and new equipment added including three 21,000 -liter and one 6500-liter extraction chambers. Gary proudly demonstrated the new system to members who attended a special ribbon cutting ceremony. It was an emotional moment as he recalled the many obstacles which had to be overcome along the way towards achieving the new system, which was and still is, the largest fully automated distillery for essential oils in the world. Later that year, Young Living was able to purchase land in British Columbia and established the Northern Lights Farm near Fort Nelson to distill Black Spruce, Ledum, Yarrow, and White Spruce. In Europe, the Dalmatia Aromatic Farm was added in Split, Croatia for distilling Helichrysum, Sage, Juniper, and Bay Laurel.

Gary has also established many partner farms which include the Kona Reforestation Project on the Big Island of Hawai, for the production of Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood; the Balkan Botanical Farm in Manolovo, Bulgaria, for Roman Chamomile, Rose, and Valerian; the Taiwan Cooperative Farm in Taitung Taiwan for Jade Lemon, Hong Kuai, Xiang Mao, and Camphor Wood; the Maydi Frankincense Distillery in Dubai, UAE, for Frankincense; the Perth Sandalwood Farm in Perth, Australia, for Sacred Sandalwood; the Outback Botanical Reserve in Darwin, Australia, for Blue Cypress; and the Amanzi Amahle Farm in Johannesburg, South Africa, for Tea Tree, Eucalyptus Radiata, Lemon, and Orange. The most recent partnership established was in March 2018 with the Labbeemint Partner Distillery in White Swan, Washington, for the production of Pacific Northwest sourced peppermint oil. Labbeemint has been a family run operation since the 1940s.

As with all Young Living partners, Gary insisted on diligently searching for only the most meticulous operations able to meet Young Living’s stringent standards for Young Living Therapeutic Grade™, a term Gary coined in 1991. This term was originally intended simply to convey the promise that Young Living would ensure its oils would not only be pure, but would contain optimal ranges of the components needed to provide therapeutic benefit.  For example, Gary explained, “Peppermint oil should contain between 38 and 47 percent menthol to be therapeutic. If the summer is wet and rainy, menthol will be approximately 24 percent but will still be pure. It is just not therapeutic.”

As more and more companies began to compete in the essential oil market during the last fifteen years or so, virtually all of them, despite wide ranges in quality, claim to be “pure” and “therapeutic grade”. Consequently, the term was assumed by many to simply be a marketing phrase and of no value as there is no grading system nor independent authority which grades and determines the quality of essential oils. However, this was never what Gary meant.  The entire phrase was Young Living Therapeutic Grade™, and was intended to denote that the oils bearing this mark met Young Living’s own internal standards for the range and balance of therapeutic constituents necessary to make such a claim. These levels were determined by collecting extensive research, and often, in the case of newly discovered oils, conducting additional research.

Most recently added to Young Living’s own farms, the Skyrider Wilderness Ranch in Tabiona, Utah, was carefully chosen by Gary as a site for retreats, as well as a place where he could perform research on new botanicals and distillation. Gary was also in the process of moving the majority of Young Living’s Einkorn grain production to this farm. Altogether, as a result of Gary’s tireless energy, Young Living has more than 16 global and and partner farms around the world, international offices in more than a dozen countries, over 3000 employees, and well over 4 million members worldwide. The company has continued to grow and has achieved more than $1 billion in annual sales for the past three consecutive years, winning many awards.

Gary Young bandido med2

Gary and Bandido, his dancing Friesian stallion, photo courtesy Young Living

Gary always loved horses, and Young Living breeds and maintains a string of champion Percherons which are shown regularly. Many of these are also used for work at both the Mona farm and for horse logging at Highland Flats.  Gary used other horses as well including Bandido, the dancing Friesian stallion, and several others which he regularly rode on his many trips to the mountains. He also used the horses in his wild west shows for visitors, and for jousting, one of his favorite sports.

Gary joustingmed

Gary jousting, photo courtesy Young Living

Gary also dreamed for many years of someday competing in a dogsled race.  This goal was realized in 2017 when he competed in two races in Alaska, finishing both and mushing over 500 miles for days in temperatures of -30° across the frozen Alaska wilderness.

Gary’s adventures in traveling around the world are too numerous to recount, but all of this is well documented and many thousands of members have accompanied him on these journeys and can attest from personal knowledge of the mentors and experts Gary studied with and the places he has been.

It was not always easy.  Not everyone understood Gary, especially not his competitors.  At the time Gary started, interest in aromatherapy was just beginning to be revived by Robert Tisserand’s popular book, The Art of Aromatherapy.  The early history of essential oil use in America had long been forgotten.  Once common for both medicinal use and home remedies, a number of essential oils, plants and seeds were brought to America by early settlers. Other medicinal uses of local plants were learned from Native Americans.  Many essential oils were readily available at drugstores and regularly used by the general public for both topical and internal applications.

Even the federal government for years had farms and distilleries for producing essential oils to study their medicinal benefits. However, with the establishment of the FDA in 1906, and the growing demands of the flavor and fragrance industries, the market for personal use of pure essential oils was largely forgotten, and synthetic or restructured oils were generally more profitable. Many early aromatherapists inspired by Tisserand’s book wanted to feel their services and products were unique. They resented this farm boy from Idaho who made claims about traveling the world, and studying with experts and growing and distilling his own oils to make them available for the general public. They resented his insistence on quality standards and testing, which many of them could not afford.

Some groups even devoted remarkable amounts of time, energy and discussion to shutting down Young Living. Efforts were made by a few to spread information that would damage the reputation of Young Living, or Gary himself and put a stop to his teaching. Led by some of the same original individuals, a few such groups persist. These attacks were hurtful to Gary, but he never allowed them to deter his vision, which was never anything more than wanting to help people and to learn and understand how to use the benefits of essential oils for wellness. Gary was never driven by gaining profit, he simply wanted to learn and to share the excitement of what he learned with others.  The Multi-level Marketing business model was chosen simply as a way to share the oils with more people, and to help people develop lasting friendships and relationships in the pursuit of their wellness goals. In fact, Young Living was never a real threat to small aromatherapy businesses as it fills a completely different niche, and there is plenty of room for both. What it did do was raise interest and awareness of essential oils for all essential oil companies in general, as well as helping raise awareness of the need for purity and quality.

Young Living grew and prospered because of Gary’s tireless energy and unfailing demand for quality. Everyone who stayed around him for any length of time was inspired to do the same. Rather than sitting back to enjoy his profits, Gary poured them right back into the company, building more farms, distilleries, laboratories, and insisting on the latest and most technologically advanced testing equipment. Many times he brought Dr. Hervé Casabianca over to calibrate his GC/MS equipment and to train his scientists in using these instruments and learning to accurately interpret the results.

Another side of Gary was his unfailing kindness and extreme generosity.  Two major earthquakes with numerous aftershocks devastated Nepal during 2015, resulting in more than 9000 fatalities and the loss of nearly a million homes. Many businesses and companies and individuals reached out to help – but on visiting Nepal in 2016, Gary was appalled to find the extent of  damage that still existed, and the horrible impacts to families and children in a country desperately struggling to recover. Seeing this, Gary was not satisfied to simply offer donations. He had to help. He personally went to Nepal on many trips, spending literally months of his own time, brought them a brick-making machine, and taught them how to use it. Each trip he brought more Young Living members to help. To date, 112 homes and 2 schools have been rebuilt in Yarsa, Nepal.

Gary dogsledding Iditarod trial med

Gary dogsledding, photo courtesy Young Living 2017

Gary’s Alaskan dogsled races last year were not just for fun, but his efforts and endurance in the bitter freezing temperatures were to help raise more money for Nepal, and he succeeded in raising $40,000 more to help build 8 more homes. Through the 9-year-old Young Living Foundation, Gary also helped with many more causes, including raising more than $250,000 for people affected by natural disasters.  Two clinics in Jinja, Uganda, were built, treating more than 400 people a week, through Young Living Foundation Partner Sole Hope. Altogether, through many partners and projects, Gary’s guidance as Chairman of the Board of the Young Living Foundation led to providing more than $6 million in aid to those in need.

Gary will be greatly missed, by his family, friends, and Young Living members everywhere, but he has left a truly remarkable legacy that will continue for years to come.

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Gary at Highland Flats ribbon cutting, 2014, photo by Brenda Tippin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Historic Young Family photos courtesy Family Search

 

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Essential Oil ingestion debate – is Frankincense oil the same as turpentine?

Recently, a discussion was posted on a social media page comparing the GCMS for a high quality frankincense oil with a GCMS for turpentine paint thinner from Home Depot as a chemist’s perspective on whether or not essential oils should be ingested. It was stated that while the point is not that turpentine is exactly the same thing as frankincense, but rather that they are the same class of molecules (terpenes) with many of the same molecules in common, a-pinene being the dominant component of both, and both distilled from tree resin and therefore have solvent properties. This example was given to caution people against putting 10 drops of an essential oil with a dietary supplement label in your water and drinking it down multiple times per day.

The information which follows is not intended to be an argument about whether you should or should not ingest essential oils, but about sifting the information out there which might influence your choices.

Ok, first of all, there are no essential oils with dietary supplement labels sold by any company which the suggested use on the label directs one to add 10 drops to water multiple times per day. In fact there are none which give a suggested dosage on the label of 10 drops at all, much less added to water multiple times per day, so this is an exaggeration to say the least. It may be true there are some individuals who recommend adding 10 drops of an essential oil to your drinking water and doing this multiple times per day. The unspoken implication here is that typical recommendations for water consumption are 8-10 8 oz glasses per day so that could be 80-100 drops of essential oil per day. There are 100 drops of oil in a 5 ml bottle. One company which offers Frankincense oil as a dietary supplement is priced at $29.75 for 5 ml wholesale and $39.14 retail. The suggested use is 1-2 drops, up to three times per day, not 10 drops multiple times per day equaling possibly an entire 5 ml bottle a day.

Secondly, it needs to be understood that there are a whole range of dietary supplements out there, and different people take them for different reasons. However, no one takes the maximum dose of every single dietary supplement they might decide to try, every single day for the rest of their life.  Much less some highly inflated dose that is drastically different from what the label recommends. Especially when the cost of this ridiculously inflated dose could be $30 or more per day. No one is doing that, and even if they wanted to, it would be cost prohibitive. Besides the very obvious fact that 100 drops a day would be a toxic dose for almost any oil, especially if continued for multiple days indefinitely.

Now lets examine the logic that ingesting frankincense oil is equivalent to ingesting turpentine because both happen to be high in terpene molecules. Following a similar logic we could argue that house cats are potentially as dangerous as lions and cougars because they are all members of the family Felidae and share many characteristics. They are all carnivores with fur, four paws and a tail, and they all have sharp teeth and claws. They all growl when they are mad. Neither is it just size that makes one potentially more dangerous, as there are many species of wild cats similar in size and appearance to house cats which are quite vicious.

Ok, so how about the argument that you should not ingest solvents? That sounds like a bad idea, right? However, a solvent is merely the liquid in which a solute is dissolved to form a solution. WATER is a solvent and we all drink that and need to.

Now lets consider a seemingly harmless substance regularly consumed by most Americans. Did you know that according to the USDA, the average American consumes 150-170 POUNDS of sugar per year? Just imagine if you took 30 or more 5 lb bags of sugar and stack them in the corner of your kitchen on New Year’s Day and declare to yourself that you are going to eat all of that by the end of the year. Sugar causes many more health issues than essential oils and these issues are well documented.

In many social media groups and blog posts you hear horror stories of people having holes burned in their esophagus, kidney and liver destroyed etc etc. Often people “know” this so and it is “proven” that essential oils caused these issues because they heard it from their best friend whose aunt’s doctor had a patient who suffered these consequences of essential oil ingestion. In some cases people say it is their own first hand story of what happened to them and they know it was the oils and their doctor agreed it was the oils that caused their issues.

However, it is nearly impossible to find documentation of medical reports or published peer-reviewed studies to confirm these reports, while at the same time, such information abounds for many prescription drugs, foods, and other products. Key information such as age and previous health history such as being a cancer survivor (no one is cured from cancer, they are only said to be in remission if the cancer goes away); family history of kidney or liver disease, medication history, or a host of other issues are often not taken into consideration when someone posts a claim stating they know their issue was caused by essential oils. Also missing is key information on which oil or oils were used, brand, quality, dosage, duration, and other factors which might be pertinent. Instead you see statements like “”lemon oil will dissolve a styrofoam cup! Imagine what it would do to your insides!”” (Never mind that our intestines are not made of styrofoam).

According to analysis conducted by Transparency Market Research, the global essential oil market is expected to reach $24.79 billion by 2022. According to Grandview Research, the essential oil market in the US is expected to reach $7.34 billion by 2024 while the US population is projected to reach 334.5 million by 2020. Although current and projected essential oil use includes a wide range of quality and purity, it is not difficult to see that use is certainly widespread enough that if essential oils really were causing a fraction of the health issues claimed in these Facebook groups and blog posts, real proof and documentation that these adverse events were occurring would not be so difficult to find.

A lot of very misleading information is posted on these threads, particularly when understanding what it means to say essential oils are concentrated, and unfortunately, people are drawn in by it. One blog proclaims that a single drop of lemon essential oil is the equivalent of eating 20 lemons! This is incorrect. Dr. Jean Valnet, a medical doctor who practiced aromatherapy for more than 30 years and who was considered one of the leading authorities in the world on essential oils and their therapeutic use, stated that about 3000 lemons were required to distil one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of essential oil. This works out to about 50 lemons per 15 ml bottle, or per 300 drops; 5 lemons per 30 drops, or 1 lemon per 6 drops. In other words consuming a drop of lemon oil is nothing like eating 20 whole lemons, it is like adding one small slice of lemon to your water or tea, a fairly common practice.

And while some may argue that essential oils added to foods are trace amounts measured in parts per million, the truth is most are proprietary formulas and don’t really state how much is in them. Many essential oils have been ingested in foods and home remedies for hundreds of years, well before the term “aromatherapy” was coined. That is not to say that one should ingest essential oils without investing in the training and/or research to learn about the oils you are using and why you might ingest them. What is right for one person may not be right for another.  However, exaggerated safety claims promote drama, not education.


Essential Oil History and the Safety Debate – Part I, The Peppermint King

Within aromatherapy circles, increasing focus has been brought to bear on the issue of safety, based on the  belief that essential oils for home or personal use is a relatively new idea – and previously were seldom used except by doctors or pharmacies.  This is simply not true.

The term “aromatherapy” was first coined by René-Maurice Gattefossé and did not come into common use until after his book Aromathérapie was published in 1937.  However, steam distillation of essential oils has been known for at least 5000 years, and the use of a variety of plants for medicinal and natural remedies, as well as other uses, has been handed down through many cultures,  including  America. The practice of using plants, herbs, botanicals for home remedies, and a number of essential oils, came to America with the earliest settlers and has persisted through the years, never being entirely forgotten.  The very inclusion of most essential oils on the FDA’s GRAS list is based on substantial history of common use in food prior to January 1, 1958 as provided by CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 .

One of the most interesting in the history of essential oils in the U.S. is the story of peppermint.  A member of the mint family, peppermint is a naturally occurring hybrid of spearmint and water mint, originating in North Africa and the Mediterranean area. It has a long history of cultivation and medicinal use, dating back to at least 1500 B.C. It was mentioned in Icelandic Pharmacopoeias as early as the 13th century, and listed in the London Pharmacopoeia by 1721. Peppermint was brought to the US by early settlers, and became common in Massachusetts where some of the earliest colonies were established.

In 1810, a peddler named Archibald Burnett from Ashfield, Massachusetts, set out by foot for New York with another peddler, each carrying a pack sack full of Yankee notions which they sold along their journey.  Burnett settled upon the shores of Lake Canandaigua, the fourth largest of the Finger Lakes, and there remained until he received an urgent letter from his brother Nahum, urging him to return home as he had important news which could not be trusted to the mail.  Archibald made the long walk home, a distance of some 275 miles.  There he discovered that Nahum had been experimenting with distilling the peppermint that grew along the stream banks, and felt that if his brother would move back home and help him, they could make a considerable amount of money.  Archibald had an even better idea.  He felt sure the peppermint would grow even better on the rich flats of the Canandaigua Outlet, and there they would have no competition from other farmers distilling it, for at that time, the plant was not known outside of Massachusetts.  Accordingly, Archibald set once more on the trek back to New York, this time with a pack of carefully nurtured peppermint stolons slung over his shoulder.  Nahum sold his little farm and soon followed.  In 1814, the brothers purchased 40 acres of land near South Lyons, where they set out the peppermint plants and erected the first crude distillery.

True to Archibald’s prediction, the peppermint plants did extremely well on the mucky flats near the lake, and so successful was their venture that many of their Ashfield neighbors also came to Lyons and began distilling peppermint, which was soon taken up by other farmers of Wayne County.

h-g-hotchkiss

H.G. Hotchkiss, from History of Wayne County by W.H. McIntosh, 1877

Meanwhile, Hiram G. Hotchkiss, the man destined to be America’s Peppermint King, was born  on  June 19, 1810 in Ontario County, New York to parents Leman and Theodosia Gilbert Hotckiss.  He was just four years old when the Burnett brothers brought the first peppermint plants to Lyons, a small community of about 3500.  His father, a merchant, had moved the family to Phelps, Ontario County where he opened the first General Store in town in partnership with David McNeill.  Hotchkiss & McNeil became one of the most highly regarded mercantile firms in Western New York, doing brisk sales in excess of $100,000 per year, which was an enormous sum in those days. Hiram G. became a clerk in this store at 12 years of age and worked his way up.  By the time he was 18, he opened his own General Store in Phelps in partnership with his brother Leman B., and cousin, William T. Hotchkiss, as well as successfully operating two mills. By 1828 he had begun buying peppermint oil from the Burnett brothers and other farmers, along with their wheat.

At that time peppermint oil was in common use as a home remedy for digestive, respiratory and other common ailments,  but it was mostly imported from England. For a time,  H. G., as he was known, sold the peppermint oil in his store.  In 1833, he married Mary Williams Ashley, daughter of Dr. Robert Ashley of Lyons, and began to raise a family. Eventually they would have three sons and nine daughters.  H. G. began to accumulate more of the peppermint oil than it was practical to sell in his store alone, and so founded his Hotchkiss Essential Oil Company in 1839.  He tried to sell the peppermint oil in the New York markets.   Adulteration of the oil was so common they refused to even look at his product.  However, he knew his oil was pure and of excellent quality, so refusing to be discouraged, he rebottled the oil in cobalt blue bottles manufactured by the Ely Glass Company in nearby Clyde, and consigned it to London and Rotterdam Company in Hamburg, Germany. There the oil was promptly met with great favor, and tested and found to be the best and purest peppermint oil in the world.  Ultimately it was sold back to the New York markets who had refused it before.

The Hotchkiss label of peppermint oil was soon widely recognized both for its purity and extreme potency. By 1844, H.G. moved his family to Lyons to be nearer the Erie Canal, which had been constructed in 1825, and was a main means of transporting the oils. Purchasing a large tract of land, he began cultivating peppermint in earnest, using horses to plow the land and harvesting the peppermint by scythe in the fall after blooming.  It was said the canalers could smell the fragrance of peppermint wafting on the air as the neared the small town of Lyons.  The New York Central Railroad was established in 1853, which surpassed the canal as a primary means of transport, but still the little town was favorably situated.  The town of Lyons prospered and many of the local farmers who grew peppermint for Hotchkiss were able to pay their mortgages with it.

The geology of Wayne County has a curious history, being formed of parallel rows of elongated hills known as drumlins, which are said to occur in swarms.  They were known to be caused by glaciation more than 12,000 years ago, when ice a mile thick had covered the area of western New York.  The matter of exactly how they were formed was a topic of debate for more than a century and a half but was finally settled and explained in an article by retired geologist Fred Haynes. According to Haynes, it was found that the drumlins were islands of sediment rooted in bedrock, with the intervening regions washed out by rivers and streams from glaciers melting, and cutting deeply into the Paleozoic bedrock, making the contrast all the more dramatic.  The receding glaciers were also responsible for the formation of the Finger Lakes in the region, and the rich fertile wetlands surrounding the lakes and often the areas between the drumlins.  These were known as mucklands and proved to be ideal for the cultivation of peppermint.

mentha-piperita-national-agricultural-library-1769

Mentha Piperita, Medical Botany, Vols 1-2, William Woodinvile, 1810

The first year, H. G. began his peppermint oil business in only a small way, selling less than 1000 pounds of oil. After horses had plowed the land, it was carefully marked off into furrows about three feet apart. Workmen with sacks of roots began setting out the peppermint plants in sets placed thickly and then covered lightly.  The plants took hold easily, and the dark green leaves contrasted handsomely with the delicate pink flowers which began appearing in late August.

When the peppermint was ready to be harvested, workmen came again to the fields, cutting the now two foot tall plants with scythes close to the root, and the harvest continued into September. The plants were piled into windrows and allowed to cure in the sun for 12 hours, so the oil would be more easily expressed.  Then they were pitched off into the wooden distilling vats which consisted of heavy staves hooped with iron, where they were trodden down.

When the vats were filled with plant material, they would be covered, made steam tight with rubber packing, and fastened with screw clamps.  Steam was then forced in by a pipe near the bottom of the vat, which connects to a steam boiler at thirty to forty pounds pressure.  This was a method different from that used in Europe which applied fire directly to the still.  The size of the vats corresponded to the amount of steam furnished by a boiler, but some of the vats described were four to five feet in diameter and twice as deep.  Another pipe in the center of the vat cover connected the vat to a condensing worm, which again varied in size according to the capacity of the still, but would become progressively smaller toward the outlet.

diagram-of-hotchkiss-peppermint-distiller

From: New Remedies, Vol XI, 1882

The stills would be built so as to place the condensing worm directly in the stream so it would be cooled by a constant supply of cold running water. The volatized mint oil would mix with the steam  in the condensing worm, and then was collected into the receiver where specific gravity would cause the oil to separate from the hydrosol water. The receiver would often consist of a tin vessel with a pipe running from the bottom nearly to the top of the vessel where it then turned outward, and the weight of the oil would cause the water from the lower part of the vessel to rise in this spout and drip out.  Oil would then be dipped from the receiving vessel when a few pounds had accumulated.

First year crops were the best and purest.  No  cultivation was required in the second year, and  in the third year, the ground would be plowed again, allowing the plants to spring up anew from the the broken roots.

hotchkiss-peppermint-distillery

From: New Remedies, Vol XI, 1882

After this, the land would be exhausted, and it was necessary to rotate with another crop, usually corn.

In 1846, H. G. discovered that the peppermint output of New York State at 44,500 pounds was triple that of competitors in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana combined.  Eureopean demand, however, was only 12,000 pounds.  Accordingly, H.G. paid growers in 1847 to sell him set amounts for two years and destroyed all of the surplus.  This provided him with a temporary monopoly which allowed him to control the market and the quality, elevating peppermint oil prices. After he won prizes at the World’s Fair in London in 1851, and the New York World’s Fair in 1853, he bought only from New York growers to maintain quality.  There were two distilleries, one near the plant and canal, and another on Pilgrimport Road.  H. G. continually studied new methods to improve both the cultivation of the crops as well as distillation of the oil.  He imported roots from England and developed the “Black Mint” variety, which yielded a greater quantity of oil.

H. G.’s  unyielding standards for purity, honesty, and fair dealing reaped handsome returns, and by 1895, little more than half a century later, the business sold well more than 100,000 pounds of peppermint oil alone. The Hotchkiss Essential Oil Company, which by that time distilled many other oils as well as peppermint, was the most highly respected essential oil brand not only in the United States, but controlled more than 60 percent of the markets around the entire globe in the years following the Civil War.

The trademarked peppermint oil remained their most famous though, and by 1877 the Hotchkiss name was so valued that H.G. also registered a facsimile of his signature with the U.S. Patent Office.  In 1878, H.G. visited Europe where he was very cordially welcomed and honored on the floor of the world renowned London Exchange for his outstanding brand of essential oils, an honor which had rarely been given to any American for any reason.   H.G. won first prize medals for his brand of oils at seventeen World Fairs, including:  London, 1853 and 1862; New York 1853; Paris 1856, 1867, and 1878;  Hamburg, 1863; Vienna, Austria, 1873; Philadelphia, 1876; and Chicago, 1893, by which time H. G. was 83 years old.

During these years, not only was peppermint oil a common and widely used home remedy for both topical and internal use, it was valued for its use as a flavoring in many candies and other sweets, gum, toothpaste, and a variety of pharmaceutical and  patented medicinal products.

Peppermint was regularly included in the early Pharmacopoeias, as well as The Dispensatory of the United States (1839).  Numerous essential oils still commonly sold today, including peppermint, were listed in Merck’s 1907 Index.  These generally called for actual pure distilled essential oils, and not synthetic versions.  Many books of home remedies were published which attest to the fact that peppermint essential oil, the same essential oil that is widely sold today, was indeed well known and recognized for home use, and had been since the colonists first brought it to America.  One such book was The Favorite Medical Receipt Book and Home Doctor, compiled by Josephus Goodenough, M.D.  This book includes recipes from more than a hundred doctors and nurses for many common ailments that were often treated at home, as well as for things that could be done while waiting for a doctor.  A very few others are Home Guide, Cure Without Drugs, by Dr. L.H. Kersey (1888), The Cottage Physician, for Individual and Home Use by George W. Post A.M., M.D. (1897), and Mother’s Remedies by Dr.T. J. Ritter (1910), which included more than a thousand home remedies used by mothers in the U.S. and Canada.  An example from Mother’s Remedies using peppermint oil is the following: “Cramps in Stomach, Oil of Peppermint for.—Put a few drops of peppermint in a glass of warm water. Take a teaspoonful every few minutes until relieved.” This is an old time-tried remedy our grandmothers used to use and can be relied upon.”

Countless other such books were published, giving recipes for home remedies often using peppermint oil, and many other essential oils as well.  This completely dispels the myth that essential oils were rarely used in America by  ordinary individuals in their homes until recent years. It also shows that certain oils could be, and often were, taken by simply adding a few drops to water.  Although the majority of oil produced would go to the pharmaceutical and flavor industries to be used in everything from chewing gum, toothpaste, sweets, various pharmaceutical and medicinal recipes for both topical and internal use, soaps, and more, personal use for home remedies remained a constant practice handed down through the years.  Interestingly, peppermint oil was one of the active ingredients in the original formula for Listerine, developed by Joseph Lawrence in 1879.  And it is still one of the active ingredients for the current reduced alcohol formula for Listerine developed by several noted scientists of the Warner Lambert Company in 1994, including Dr. Mike Buch, who is now the Chief Science Officer of Young Living Essential Oils.

Purity of the essential oils was as much a concern then as it is now. It was common at that time to adulterate peppermint with a number resinous substances, fixed oils, or alcohol.  Inferior quality also was widespread due to lack of care in keeping the peppermint fields free of weeds.  Sheep were often used for this purpose, as they would not touch the peppermint plants unless they were kept in these fields for years and became accustomed to the strong taste.  It was H.G.’s stringent attention to these details which made the quality of his peppermint oil so much in demand. During the peak years of operation, H.G. packaged the oil in signature 21 ounce cobalt blue glass bottles, bearing the slogan he coined, ““One 21 ounce bottle of Peppermint Oil will give the correct flavor to a ton of candy.”  Each bottle was hand wrapped in a facsimile of the first certificate won by H.G. at the 1851 London World Exhibition, and bearing the signature of Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria.

hotchkiss-essential-oil-depot

From: History of Wayne County, W.H. McIntosh, 1877

In 1894, the original plant built by H.G. burned, but he continued to manage and operate his peppermint business, which had come to be called the Hotchkiss International Prize Medal Essential Oil Company, until his death October 27, 1897. The business then passed to his sons, Calvin, who died in 1925, and Hiram, who died in 1926. After H. G.’s death  however, increasing numbers of farmers in Wayne County began to give up cultivating peppermint in favor of more profitable crops. Also, another Peppermint King was rising to stardom in Michigan.  We shall hear more of his story later.

Nevertheless, the Hotchkiss company continued, faithfully maintaining H.G.’s standards, and the name was so well known in Europe they continued to retain many of the old customers.  In 1926, upon the death of his father, the third Hiram G took over his grandfather’s business and continued till his death at 83 in 1963, when his daughter Anne Dickinson Hotchkiss became the company president.  Anne continued to run the company until 1982, and having no family member to leave it to, sold it to William Leman Company,  a competitor who grew and distilled peppermint in Indiana, famous for their gourmet mints first created in 1939.

The original peppermint office which H.G. rented from the Leach brothers when he came to Lyons in 1841, became the museum. This was placed on the National Historic Register in 1988, and is managed by the nonprofit Lyons Heritage Society which offers tours of the historic building during the summer months, and maintains a gift shop (where bottles of the famous peppermint oil may still be purchased) to help raise funds for its upkeep.

The Leman company continued to produce the Hotchkiss oils until 2003 when the formulation and rights were purchased by Essex Laboratories, founded in Salem, Oregon in 1992.  Anne Hotchkiss continued to take pride in the history of the Hotchkiss peppermint oil until her death in 2010 at 95 years of age.  Essex continues to produce Hotchkiss peppermint according to H.G.’s original specifications, making it the oldest trademarked oil in America.

Next we will look at Albert May Todd, The Peppermint King of Kalamazoo, the young chemist and politician who sought to claim that his oil was the best and purest, and his company the world leader. .

todd-pinback

Albert M. Todd, Public domain, Wikimedia Commons

To  learn more about different therapeutic grade essential oils and how they may help support a healthy lifestyle, please visit The Oil Well.

For more information on the leading essential oil companies, their history, testing, and quality standards, check out the 45 page Young Living/DoTerra Report.

If this information has been helpful, you may make a small donation to help defray the costs of research.  Thank you!

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and this information is for educational purposes only and not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any diseas

 


The Research of Dr Jean Valnet – Essential Oils During the Past Century, Part IV

Meanwhile, as the U.S. Government was quietly growing and distilling essential oils to research their medicinal benefits, and the FDA was taking steps to ensure that only patentable, synthetic drugs approved by them could ever be used to treat any illness, Gattefossé’s work was not entirely forgotten in France.

Jean Valnet was born July 26, 1920 in what is now the city of Châlons-en-Champagne, France (formerly known as Châlons-sur-Marne, the name was changed in 1998).  As a boy he had opportunity to observe the healing power of plants on many occasions, used by adults who seemed to be aware of the medicinal properties of many of the local plants surrounding them, and who seemed to accept them in a matter of fact way without really understanding how they worked.  Jean Valnet wanted to know more, and tucked this observations away in his enquiring young mind for future reference.

 

He served in combat during World War II (1940-45) and began to study medicine at the Military Academy of the Arrow, at the School of the Military Department of Health, and the Medical College of Lyon. From 1944-1945 he was Assistant Chief of Surgical Services for Evacuation Hospital 412, and he earned his Doctor of Medicine degree in 1945, as well as Diplomas in Forensic Medicine, Psychiatry, Microbiology, Hygiene, and Colonial Medicine.  As a soldier, he earned many honors.  He was an OfficerCroix de Guerre 1939-1945 of the Legion of Honor and held the Croix de Guerre  during the years 1939-1945.  He earned six Cross TOE (Theatre of External Operations) citations and the honors he held included ” Cross of the Fighter,” “Cross Volunteer Fighter ,” “Cross of Resistance Fighter Volunteer ” and ” Medal of the Free French .”

Following his graduation in 1945, he was appointed Lieutenant and served as Assistant Surgeon for Evacuation hospitals 412 and 501 in Germany.  He also served as doctor for the School of Application of the Infantry, and the prestigious Special Military School of St. Cyr, which is the foremost military academy in France.

This academy had originally been founded in 1802 by Napoléon Bonaparte at Fontainebleu near Paris, using the historic buildings of the Maison Royale de Saint-Louis   The Maison Royale de Saint-Louis was originally founded in 1685 by Louis XIV for impoverished daughters of noblemen who had died for France. Several other moves of the school followed, and in 1808, the cadets eventually settled west of Paris in Saint-Cyr.

 

In 1948 he was promoted to the rank of Captain, and served as Surgeon of the Advanced Surgical Unit at Tonkin, the leading surgical unit in this location, from 1950 – 1953.  In 1954, Valnet earned a Bronze medal for his scientific work.  He found consistent results and great success in using many essential oils and aromatic solutions in dressing the wounds during this time.   Later, he served as chief physician to the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the French armed forces, including the Chief of the Secretary of State for War, Staff of the Army, and Office of the Secretary of the Army.  Dr. Valnet also earned the academic decoration of being appointed Commanding Officer  of the ” National Order of Academic Palms ” at the age of 36 for his exceptional scientific research and services to Higher Education.  He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1958 and served as commanding doctor and physician for Emergency Services. Other awards included the Golden Civic Star and  Silver Medal of Physical Education.  Valnet was also Officer of the Franco-British Alliance, Commander of the League for Protection of Children, and Commander for the National Order of the Ivory Coast as well as a member of numerous medical and cultural organizations.

Dr. Valnet retired from the military in 1959 and continued his medical practice at his Paris surgery in the Avenue Kléber, continuing to advise his patients that a healthy diet and phyto-aromatherapy were important in maintaining wellness.  He chaired the first Symposium of Medical Aromatherapy in Paris in 1960, and his first reference work, titled “Aromatherapy : the treatment of ailments by Plant Essences” was published in 1964.  This was followed by a second book, “The treatment of ailments with vegetables, fruits and cereals” in 1967.  He wrote “Doctor Nature” in 1971, and “Phytotherapy : the treatment of ailments by Plants” in 1972.  These works were based on Dr. Valnet’s clinical observations, and spurred him to continued research in studying the anti-infectious properties of essential oils.  In collaboration with Dr. M. Girault of Dijon, he coined the term “aromatogramme” to describe a method using essential oils to test antimicrobial
susceptibility.  Valnet also foresaw the dangers of overusing antibiotics.

Dr. Valnet founded the first association for the research and study of phyto‐aromatherapy in 1971, and from 1976 until his death in 1995, he organized a a major annual international phyto‐aromatherapy conference which was widely attended by medical doctors, research scientists, and academics. In 1981, Dr. Valnet also founded the college of phytoaromatherapy and field‐based medicine in the French language. As a result of Dr. Valnet’s extensive research, he is generally considered by many as the  “father of modern‐day phyto‐aromatherapy”.

The forward thinking ideas of Dr. Valnet were well ahead of his time.  In his book, the Practice of Aromatherapy, published in 1980 as a culmination of his research and clinical observations, he wrote, “Normal preventive medicine, which consists in giving healthy people drugs and injections of products whose future effects are unpredictable, is an aberration.  Bringing about change by non-toxic means is the only efficacious course, among which aromatic plants and their essences have been, are, and will remain in the front rank.”  Dr. Valnet was the first to record the specific properties, indications, and dosages of essential oils useful in medical practice.  His work is credited for being the foundation of two great trends, which are the clinical and scientific approach which is regularly used by doctors in France, and more general popular trend of aromatherapy geared towards wellness and a healthy lifestyle.

Dr. Valnet formulated his own line of 44 specifically recommended essential oils, and in 1985 selected Cosbionat Laboratory to produce his famous preparations. Cosbionat is located in the beautiful Loire Valley of France, on the fringes of the Vendômoise forest.  The laboratory was originally founded in 1981 by Marie-Thé Tiphaigne and her late husband Jackie Tiphaigne, who had followed Dr. Valnet’s teachings for 13 years.Dr. Valnet continued to review and update his rearch until his death in 1995, after which the Tiphaigne’s continued to market his exclusive line of essential oils. Following the passing of her husband, Marie-Thé Tiphaigne still continues the work begun by Dr. Valnet.  The oils are carefully sourced from long-time organic growers across five continents and steam distilled at low pressure. Citrus oils are cold pressed.  Each batch is then tested against certified benchmarks for gas chromatagraphy, density, optical rotation, refractive index, and sensory testing of color, smell, and taste.  Additional tests are conducted for environmental contaminants such as pesticides and heavy metals.

 

 

To  learn more about different therapeutic grade essential oils and how they may help support a healthy lifestyle, please visit The Oil Well.

For more information on the leading essential oil companies, their history, testing, and quality standards, check out the 45 page Young Living/DoTerra report.

If this information has been helpful, you may make a small donation to help defray the costs of research.  Thank you!

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and this information is for educational purposes only and not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.
 
© 2016, Brenda L. Tippin.  Please do not copy without permission

					
		
	


Truth in Advertising – Does Pure Really Mean Pure?

The question has been raised, “At what percent true essential oil can an oil still be labeled as “pure”. In other words, if an adulterated oil can still be labeled as “pure”, does it have to contain any essential oil at all?”  This is a very good question.  Some FDA guidelines on labeling The FDA’s guidelines for Fragrances in Cosmetics provide some general guidance, but still it is vague and doesn’t really provide definitive answers.  For any essential oils intended for use as dietary supplements or food flavorings, multiple ingredients are supposed to be listed on the label, however some ingredients considered as trace are not always listed.  Essential oils intended for topical use are generally considered cosmetics.  However, the FDA allows the words “fragrance” or “flavor” to be used instead of specifying exactly what those are.  And sometimes fragrances or flavors can be synthetic, in fact, when these words are used they most likely do contain synthetics.

As one example, NOW Foods Lavender oil which may be purchased on Amazon for as little as $21.16 for a 4 oz bottle is labeled as 100% pure lavender oil.  So what does that mean?  Some have used this to suggest that companies who sell oils through Multi-level marketing and charge much more for lavender sold in 15 ml bottles are overcharging their customers because NOW sells for so much less and has good reviews. But, not necessarily. Young Living’s Lavender retails for $30.92,  dōTERRA’s lavender retails for $28, and  AMEO’s retails for $31.67, and all have wholesale pricing for members.  Original Swiss Aromatics, which is not an MLM company, sells their genuine and authentic fine lavender at $28.10 for 15 ml, so there is actually not much difference in the pricing of this oil between these companies known or claimed to have high quality oils. They also have different descriptions on their labels such as “Therapeutic Grade”, “Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade”,  “Clinical Grade”, etc., all of which in fact are simply terms to describe each company’s individual quality standards.

There is no independent body which certifies that oils are pure, therapeutic, or clinical grade.  Any oil properly grown, harvested, and distilled without use of chemicals or pesticides, without synthetic chemicals or additives, or without being extended with cheaper oils of other species, and properly tested, will be therapeutic and able to penetrate cells, there is no difference between clinical grade or therapeutic grade if all these conditions have been met.  The growing body of scientific and clinical studies clearly demonstrates this, as oils from different sources have been used for these. However, there are very few companies who actually monitor this entire process and who consistently have trained experts involved with the whole process for every single source.

Companies which post test results of their oils online may seem impressive, but the truth is, the vast majority of consumers do not know how to read these tests.  Also, posting a test result for a particular batch number is really no different than any of the other claims on the label. The consumer who has purchased the oil from that batch number still has to rely on the company’s word that the test displayed really is the actual test done on the bottle of oil they are holding.  The average consumer also cannot accurately judge quality or purity simply by which one smells the nicest.  Unless you have a lot of experience using essential oils for years, and/or had extensive training in essential oils chemistry, your nose will only tell you what you think smells “nice”, you will not be able to break down the complexity of a fragrance or really understand the nuances.   The majority of companies in the U.S. selling essential oils are simply brokers or rebottlers.  They buy the oil from a distiller who tells them it is pure (and very often the distiller is not the grower and it may even have passed through several sources before reaching the company who bottles and sells it under their own label. Or they may buy the raw material and have someone distill it for them.  Even plant materials which have been painstakingly kept from contamination at this stage still may have lost much of their potency by the time they reach a distillery, but are then bottled and sold as “pure”, which may be entirely truthful, but the quality is simply not the same.

Then there are many other companies with prices in between the seemingly expensive brands to low-priced ones. All these oils, as well as many others are labeled “pure”, and we will get more into different companies later on, but for the serious user of essential oils there is actually much more to consider.  If you look at the NOW Foods lavender you will see it says Lavandula officinalis (spp). But it says 100% pure lavender, and the Latin name looks authentic so many people are not even going to pay any attention to that, or know what it means.

Lavender is part of the mint family and in fact there are at least 39 different known species, all of which have differences in their chemical profiles, their properties, and therapeutic uses.  Then on top of that, there can be many more variations as to quality and complexity depending on where and how the lavender was grown, soil and growing conditions for that particular crop, how and when it was harvested, how long and what was done with it between harvest and distillation, how it was distilled, the quality of the equipment used, temperature, pressure, etc, and the knowledge of the persons distilling it.  Then, how it is tested, bottled, sealed, and delivered to the consumer.  There are also other considerations with lavender, for instance whether it is wild, whether it is grown from seed, or from cloned plants.

The name  Lavandula officinalis is sometimes used interchangeably with Lavandula angustifolia, or it is occasionally referred to as Lavandula vera.  However, when the latin name is followed by the letters “spp”, this means multiple species.  All of which are lavender.  So NOW Foods may be truthful when they say 100% pure lavender, and the Lavandula officinalis (spp) is right on the front of the bottle.  But, they also sell “organic” lavender, for as low as $15.69 for 1 oz.  This is still about half the price of the others but certainly far more expensive than their 4 oz bottle, although both claim to be 100% pure lavender and are labeled Lavandula officinalis (spp).  So, you don’t really know what species of lavender are in these bottles, or even if they came from a single crop.  They tell you it is steam distilled from the flower, and they do conduct some testing. Depending  on what different people want, the NOW lavender might be adequate, but it most definitely is not the same and really does not provide evidence that the others are overpriced.

While multiple ingredients are supposed to be listed on the labels, strictly speaking, “pure” seems to be a term that has not really been standardized or defined by the FDA as yet.  The FDA is currently asking for public comments on use of the term “natural”.  So in short, “pure”, may not always mean “pure”, and the question of purity may not really be all you want to find out. An article by Valparaiso University Law School Assisant Law Professor Nicole Negowetti provides a good overview of the general issue.

Next:  The Research of Dr. Jean Valnet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To  learn more about different therapeutic grade essential oils and how they may help support a healthy lifestyle, please visit The Oil Well.

For more information on the leading essential oil companies, their history, testing, and quality standards, check out the 45 page Young Living/DoTerra Report.

 

 

 

If this information has been helpful, you may make a small donation to help defray the costs of research.  Thank you!
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and this information is for educational purposes only and not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.

 


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Forgotten – Essential Oils and the US Government’s Little Known Role – Essential Oils During the Past Century Part III

What was happening in America with essential oils during the time when the Gattefossé brothers were discovering their therapeutic benefits?  The first Pharmacopeia in America was published by the Medical Society of Massachusetts in 1808, followed by  the very first United States Pharmacopeia, published in 1820.  The idea of a National Pharmacopeia was first proposed when Dr. Lyman Spalding  submitted the idea to the Medical Society of the County of New York.  The founding U.S. Pharmacopeial convention was held in Washington D.C. for the purpose of creating a system of standards and a National Formulary.  Essential oils were included in these works.

At the time René-Maurice Gattefossé applied lavender oil to the severe burns he suffered in a lab explosion, a number of essential oils  had been in regular use by U.S. doctors for more than a hundred years.  At that time, the United States Pharmacopeia was revised every ten years. During the first hundred years oils were included as individual pure volatile oils with directions for steam distillation, as important components for medicated waters, medicated spirits, liniments, ointments and other compounds.  About 10 oils were included in the 1808 Pharmacopeia of Massachusetts.  A few of the less common oils would come and go but overall the number of oils climbed over the years, peaking in 1890 with around 44 oils mentioned.  However, by this time, synthetic and artificial forms of wintergreen were included, and the 1900 version included several more synthetic forms and isolated components of volatile oils. By 1910 the number of individual pure distilled oils had tapered off to about 35 while synthetic and artificial versions and isolated components continued to increase. Later, the publications of the United States Pharmacopeia and the National Formulary were joined into one volume and published annually.

In 1900, Congress transferred 400 acres of the historic Arlington estate in Virginia to the Secretary of Agriculture for use as a general experimental farm. The Pentagon is now located on this site. This became one of several sites where the U.S. Government conducted what they referred to as “drug plant investigations”, which would continue for more than 50 years, managed by the Bureau of Plant Industry which was established in 1901.  The U.S. Government was in fact growing medicinal plants for research purposes, and among The Bureau of Plant Industry’s other projects studying various crops, farming methods, plant diseases and so forth, the project for drug plant investigations specifically included a number of experimental stations, ranging from botanical gardens to small farms used for the cultivation of aromatic plants, which they steam distilled to produce essential oils. Some were researched for perfume, fragrance, and food flavorings, while others were recognized by the government for their medicinal and therapeutic properties. Several government reports and bulletins were published mentioning details of cultivating aromatic plants for producing essential oils, and the methods and equipment for distilling them.

In 1906, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt with the Pure Foods and Drugs Act, which prohibited interstate commerce in foods or drugs which were misbranded or adulterated. While the law was intended to protect the consumer from unnecessary and potentially harmful additives to foods and drugs, the FDA sometimes had their own way of regulating this.  One of the early problems they sought to solve began in 1907 with the certification of food colors. Merchants had begun a practice of injecting foods with dyes to enhance their appearance and make them more appealing to the consumer, and to cover up defects.  Dyes were also added to drugs.  Some of these dyes were quite harmful and so the FDA, instead of forbidding the practice of adding these chemical dyes, they decided they would screen them all and certify which ones could be used.  In 1928 they certified more than 600,000 pounds of dyes permitted for use in foods and drugs. (The Arlington Experiment Farm, U.S. Department of Agriculture Handbook for Visitors, 1928). This was thought to be a great improvement because the certification rules were so strict.

Dyes were then also added to cosmetics and the practice of using FDA certified dyes continues today.  A huge list of these dyes which the FDA has removed from the list or added further restrictions due to safety issues and problems discovered after they had been in use for some time may be found on the FDA’s Color Additive Status List.  The FDA collects substantial fees for color additive certification which are regulated under Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations Section 80.10  They get paid by the pound for these certifications and just in the quarter from Oct 1- Dec 31 2015 certified more than 6 million pounds of dyes added to foods, drugs, and cosmetics.  In recent years, the safety of dyes remaining on the FDA’s approved list has come into question. The Global Healing CenterCenter for Science in the Public Interest,  Dr. Oz and Dr. Mercola are just a few who warn of the dangers of several dyes the FDA still allows.

The more extensive Food, Drugs and Cosmetics Act was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938. This law required FDA approval before any new drug could be brought to market, and also prohibited false therapeutic claims.  Through the years, the FDA has developed a very broad interpretation of this law which includes prohibiting therapeutic claims that are true, and by defining any random product as a drug if you intend to use it for something they consider a disease.  This also includes a long list of words which could be associated with various diseases.   For instance, if you use something to help with inflammation or joint pain, in the eyes of the FDA that product is likely to be considered to have become a drug.  In 2010 for example, the FDA sent a warning letter to Diamond Foods declaring that their walnuts had become drugs due to therapeutic claims they had on their website based on extensive scientific research.  The FDA collects substantial Application, Product, and Establishment Fees for each new drug. In addition, Product and Establishment Fees are assessed annually.  In 2014, the most recent year for which a financial report is available, the FDA collected more than $796 million in prescription drug user fees. 45 new drugs were approved by the FDA for 2015.  FDA approved drugs, used as prescribed, are, according to their own website the 4th leading cause of death in America. 

Meanwhile, in 1939, the work of the Arlington Experimental farm was transferred to the Research Station at Beltsville, Maryland.  By 1952, the Bureau of Plant Industry had a 14,000 acre Agricultural Research Center at this location with 2100 employees, of which more than 900 were scientists. Experiments on growing aromatic medicinal plants and distilling their essential oils were still being conducted at this time.  The next year, 1953, the Bureau of Plant Industry became part of the Agricultural Research Service, (ARS) which continues to the present.    Both the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Agricultural Library are filled with peer reviewed clinical studies which have been done on various medicinal and therapeutic uses of essential oils.  Some of these studies are done by ARS scientists.  The interest in scientific research on essential oils and the growing body of evidence that they do have valuable therapeutic uses continues to expand despite the FDA’s proclamation that only a drug (approved by them, and at great expense paid to them) can be used to prevent, treat, cure, or mitigate a disease.

Unfortunately, the essential oil research and experiments conducted by the U.S. Government were little known and mostly buried in obscure government reports and bulletins which few average citizens had access to, or took the time to wade through them if they did.  With the development of the pharmaceutical industry, the major focus became isolating active compounds of various essential oils believed to be responsible for medicinal effects, and creating synthetic versions which could be approved  by the FDA as new drugs.  Synthetic versions were also often used for food additives and flavorings, as well as for perfumes and fragrances.  Thus, despite the government’s role, the essential oil industry in the U.S. was following a very different path than the one in France influenced by the research René-Maurice Gattefossé.   Pure essential oils were very scarce in the U.S.  Their therapeutic properties were largely forgotten, and the  development of aromatherapy would take many decades before finding its way to the U.S.

Next:  The Research of Dr. Jean Valnet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To  learn more about different therapeutic grade essential oils and how they may help support a healthy lifestyle, please visit The Oil Well.

For more information on the leading essential oil companies, their history, testing, and quality standards, check out the 45 page Young Living/DoTerra report.

 

 

 

If this information has been helpful, you may make a small donation to help defray the costs of research.  Thank you!
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and this information is for educational purposes only and not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.

 


Essential Oils – Forgotten Wisdom or Simply a Fad? An Overview of Essential Oils During the Past Century Part I

On the surface, this question is easy to answer. Essential oils are here to stay. Their history goes back thousands of years and they are still here because they have never been quite forgotten.

According to a recent study published by Zion Research, the global essential oils market is poised for rapid growth and expected to reach $9.8 billion during the next four years (by 2020), increased from an estimated $5.5 billion in 2014. Another study conducted by Grand View Research confirms the trend, projecting the market to reach $11.67 billion by 2022.

Essential oils have been used to support health and wellness around the world for thousands of years, and were also an important part of Biblical tradition. The high demand of essential oils for the flavor and fragrance industries during the last century resulted in many companies marketing a wide range of oils.  With no standardization, many inexpensive oils claiming to be pure are actually extended or adulterated with synthetic chemicals or cheap substitutes. Consumers have been confused by different marketing terms such as pure, organic, therapeutic grade, certified pure therapeutic grade, or even clinical grade.  In the United States there is no authoritative independent body at this time which grades or certifies the quality of essential oils.  These are all marketing terms, defined by the companies who sell them.  Oils from one company labeled as therapeutic grade are not necessarily the same as oils labeled therapeutic grade by a different company.  Oils labeled “certified” therapeutic grade simply means that company certifies (attests, assures, states it is true) that their oils are therapeutic grade. Clinical grade is yet another marketing term which implies these oils are superior because they have clinical studies, doctors use them, etc.  But again, there is no grading system. Other oils labeled as pure, organic or therapeutic may have just as many or more clinical studies, used by doctors, etc.  For anyone seriously interested in using essential oils, especially for therapeutic purposes, it is important to learn as much as you can about essential oils, and the suppliers from which you obtain them.  Increasing concerns about essential oil quality have led to higher standards and more testing.

In this series, we will attempt to focus on the history of essential oils during the past century, the various pioneers, researchers, doctors, scientists, and some of the top essential oils companies leading up to the present.  As essential oils continue to grow in popularity, it is certain they are here to stay.  Coming next, The Real Story of René-Maurice Gattefossé.

To  learn more about different therapeutic grade essential oils and how they may help support a healthy lifestyle, please visit The Oil Well.

For more information on the leading essential oil companies, their history, testing, and quality standards, check out the 45 page Young Living/DoTerra report.

If this information has been helpful, you may make a small donation to help defray the costs of research.  Thank you!

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and this information is for educational purposes only and not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.